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Primal Italian Artwork Explores the Void Between the Natural and Man-Made

Giuseppe Penone’s latest exhibition includes a life-sized tree encased in bronze.
Equivalenze—12 aprile 2016, 2016. Metal, acid, terracotta, 88x140x120 cm. © Archivio Penone. All images courtesy the artist and Gagosian Rome

A testament to an unfiltered and pure understanding to nature, an artist from the arte povera movement finds special joy in connecting in a primal way with the natural world. Giuseppe Penone extols touching water directly to the tongue and pressing fingertips into soil as representative of the kind of organic energy flowing through his artwork. Enraptured with the natural organic strength of trees, easily juxtaposed with the degradation with the human body, Penone’s latest spring show at Gagosian Rome stitches togethers video collages while exhibiting his signature surrealist sculptures. A massive collection of terracotta sculptures showcase his forceful grip, applied manually, and frozen indefinitely as amorphous, flesh-toned objects, indeterminate from first glance as human or something created by nature.


Giuseppe Penone in his Turin studio, Italy, November 2016. © Archivio Penone. Photo: Angela MooreEquivalenze—2 luglio 2016, 2016. Metal, acid, terracotta, 88x140x120 cm, total dimensions 264x280x20 cm. © Archivio PenoneFilm still from Ephemeris series.  © Archivio PenoneFilm still from Ephemeris series. © Archivio Penone